Most of the things in life right now can be summed up as one of those two things: bitter or sweet. You would think that this might leave me at a constant crossroad of emotional hang ups never knowing whether to laugh or cry. And it does. I am often running between the lines of emotions tasting sweetness in the air and feeling bitterness in my heart. Ironically in cooking sometimes having both bitter and sweet can bring out the best in a dish. I guess the goal is to find that balance in life as well.
Something that I muse on many times a day is how night and day my life is from just a few months ago. Taking care of GM was mostly sad for me. Mostly it was also hard and depressing and relentless and tedious and never-ending and something that got more difficult and unrewarding.
You know people used to comment to me that taking care of GM was “good practice” for taking care of a baby. Some people were so bold as to say that maybe the Universe was giving me my motherhood experience within the confines of being a caregiver. Not true, neither of those things.
It is indescribable how much being around Alzheimer’s can feed into the glass half empty feeling. You are around the decline of another person, someone that you care about, are invested in with your entire heart and soul. Each day another memory is stolen and evaporates, another skill is forgotten. One day you wake up to discover that your Grandmother will need you for the most basic functioning, and then you know it will only get worse.
Being around that kind of sadness and still trying to achieve motherhood was a bizarre duality. Both required me to have insane (truly) amounts of hope and faith. And not a wish on a star kind of hope, and not a sing in the choir kind of faith. If anything I became guarded with my hope- sometimes feeling like I couldn’t hope for more than one thing. If I dared swerve my hope from, “PLEASE let me become a mother” to “PLEASE let it be colder tomorrow” I felt doomed. As if I had blinked away in a staring contest with hope.
And faith? Well someday I hope to work on building a path back to something that resembles it.
The hope and faith I speak of is of the primal sort. The kind of survivalist skills that you didn’t know you had until you found yourself in dire need. If I didn’t have a wish for myself beyond the life I was living then I would have vanished.
And now I am this changed woman. Changed completely by this silly, grunting, farting, boob demanding little person. And where I once watched someone I love decline and fade I watch him grow and evolve. Every day he excels into a newer model of himself. And I find myself blossoming and blushing with a new version of optimism. Where GM’s eyes fade and get distant, W’s eyes get sharper (& bluer!) and can now find me in a room.
The miracle is that W is also bringing forward some of the GM that we had thought lost. We went to the nursing home yesterday for a Mother’s Day tea in the cafeteria. There in a sea of geriatric ladies decked out in red straw hats, was GM ready and waiting for us. She not only knew us, but when someone asked her what her Great Grandson’s name was she KNEW IT. As in said it without any prompting. Mother and I locked eyes and both mouthed, “wow”.
Of course it isn’t bringing back things that are lost, and new things go missing every day. But somehow this new addition to our family has helped her with the present, with the immediate. And seeing them together is, you guessed it, both bitter and sweet.
I know this weekend will be hard for many of you, and for others it may awe you. It is kind of both for me. I am incredibly sad that we do not live in a four generation house (and of course incredibly lucky that I can get in a car and still have a four generations moment). I am sort of weepy (and embarrassed) that a silly little “holiday” has meaning for me when I used to mock it with a vengance. But it is my first mother’s day and, well, there you go.